From the Peninsula in Qatar
Marxists hold pro-Muslim convention in Kerala
The Peninsula / By John Mary
Thiruvananthapuram • With the speculation rife on snap elections to India’s Lower House, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has organised a high-profile convention in Kerala, blaming the Congress-led Federal Government for being “slow” in implementing recommendations to improve the lot of the minority community.
The Justice Rajendar Sachar Committee, appointed by the Federal Government, submitted a 15-point report in November last year, focusing on the plight of India’s largest minority community.
CPM politburo member Sitaram Yechuri told the 6,000-strong convention in northern Kozhikode today that his party planned a mass struggle to mount pressure on the United Progressive Alliance Government in New Delhi to implement the Committee recommendations.
He urged Delhi to direct States to identify backward classes among Muslims and include them among Other Backward Classes category for preferential treatment.
Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan, who addressed the convention in the afternoon, announced a separate minority board, welfare fund for 150,000 madrassa teachers, a special officer for coordinating Federal and State schemes for the community and separate cells in the Secretariat and district collectorates. This was a follow-up to the State Cabinet naming an 11-member committee, led by Local Self Government Minister Paloly Mohammed Kutty, to submit recommendations on implementing the Sachar Committee.
Major proposals in the Sachar report — putting in place an Equal Opportunity Commission to look into grievances of the minority community, setting up a National Data Bank and Autonomous Monitoring Authority and having a Diversity Index.
As a follow-up, the Federal Government set up four different committees to advise it on ways to implement the recommendations. Out of the more than 1 billion population in the country, 13.4 per cent are Muslims, the third largest in the world. In Kerala, Muslims constitute 24 per cent of the population.
However, the CPM, which is on the verge of breaking off with Congress following differences on the Indo-US N-deal, the party compares the UPA Government’s follow-up action on Sachar recommendations to a “pendulum that swings between tokenism and deception”.
Accusing the BJP and Sangh Parivar of working against the implementation of the report and denying equal rights to Muslim minorities to consolidate its Hindu vote bank, Yechuri said Congress had been paying only lip service to the minority community. However, State Congress president Ramesh Chennian “election thala called the CPM-sponsored convention stunt.